Cobb Lane is always an easy sell for us, with its collection of local joints just past the bustle of Five Points. There’s something about the actual cobbled side street — which could easily have been lifted out of New Orleans — that makes us think of hidden treasures, of rich food and rounds of drinks shared with friends. Delta Blues Hot Tamales, the lane’s newest addition, fits that vision perfectly.
With its casual vibe and blues soundtrack, Delta Blues seems destined to be a neighborhood hangout, like the ultra-Southern version of everything we love about neighboring J. Clyde. We can imagine more than a few warm evenings spent on their patio, catching up with friends over baskets of hot tamales and bottles of cold beer. (The restaurant’s liquor license hasn’t come through yet, but our server told us it’s BYOB in the meantime. Just check the status before you go.) Even now, when it’s too cold for outdoor lounging, there are still plenty of reasons to linger over great food and conversation indoors.
We’re fans of tamales generally, so we were curious about the restaurant’s Mississippi Delta hot tamale concept. “Mexican tamales are steamed,” explained AL.com, “while the Delta tamale is boiled in a seasoned liquid.” Delta Blues co-owner Adam Freis told the site that the result is “spicier for one, but they’re also more moist because they’re fully submerged.”
The first thing we should say about the food is that we’re committed to working our way through this menu. It all sounds that good. and our first visit left us wanting to go back for more.
We had fried pickles as appetizers this round and liked the thin, crispy dill slices. Entrees included hot pork tamales by the half dozen, the vegan and ragin cajun tamale plates, and the creole jumbalaya. All were thoroughly satisfying with a surprising range of flavors within the Delta comfort food category. But the hot tamale baskets are basically a requirement on your first visit, and perhaps the ragin cajun if you have a dining partner willing to share.
Just because we’ve talked up the tamales, though, don’t take that as a sign to bypass desert. The blueberry cobbler was exactly the way we like our fruit desserts — heavy on blueberry flavor without tasting too virtuous. We started with one order but ended up getting two servings so there would be more to go around.
The staff were equally impressive. Our server was both friendly and spot on with his recommendations. He suggested the vegan with a vinegar-y side for the one member of our party who’s spice-averse, and she came away happy.
Finally, Delta Blues is a restaurant doing right by the neighborhood even in its earliest days. We hear they’ve already supported the Community Kitchens of Birmingham, which makes us that much more enthusiastic about supporting them. In truth, Delta Blues had us at tamales, but their generosity makes us love them even more.